The Ride in question was the Capital 1000K Cruise being organised by KoroJ a fellow GC riding nutter and was looking like a real beauty - lots of great roads, all of which I'd ridden previously so no worries about getting lost.
After the early wake-up I quickly scoffed by weeties and jumped on the bike to meet up with Mark on the Opiki road. Off into the cool darkness went the mighty kwaka and soon I arrived at the meeting point where Mark was just pulling up - pretty good timing.
I buttoned off for just a sec to let Mark catch up and we then enjoyed a nice ride on empty roads all they way down past Shannon & Levin and then onto the main road. Traffic was still pretty light and it's always nice riding at this time of the morning - watching the sun slowly start to rise and reveal what sort of day lies ahead.
We turned off the main road and headed over the Haywards into the Hutt. Took a bit of scenic ride through Upper Hutt to find the Caltex station when we could have actually ridden up the motorway - doh, we'll know for next time. We pulled into the station at about 6:30 and topped up our tanks before parking up and catching with KoroJ and some of the other riders.
After a quick briefing we were cut loose and everyone headed for their bike and out onto the road. First up, a quick ride over the Rimutakas where a few cars and one Harley rider were dispatched before heading on up the road to Masterton. By the time we got to Masterton the Harley rider and a few others had formed up behind us and I thought there was going to be a bit of a convoy up through Highway 52. But it wasn't to be, they all stopped for gas as Mark and I turned off.
KoroJ must be learning a thing or to about organising rides off the Rusty Nuts crew as he sent us out onto highway 52 all the way through to Waipuk which is a pretty quiet back country road that requires a lot of care and really drops that average speed. Never the less it is a good ride with some quite good scenery. But you need to keep an eye on the road: the road is in bad condition in a lot of places and you need to treat any corner with a bit of respect - you never know what the surface may be like or if there will be stock on the road.
I thought that we'd be cleaned up by some of the faster guys through here but in the end only 2 guys got past: a Honda Transalp and a Duke 1098, both passing where their bikes shine, the Transalp on some dodgy surfaces and the Duke where the road had opened up to some faster, smoother corners. Another older guy on an ST1300 formed up behind and sat behind us for a while before finally dropping back for some reason.
About 10ks or so before Waipuk we hit some road works with some quite deep gravel. Nothing too bad but a car couldn't work out which way to go to get around a grade so we ground to a halt. When taking off again the poor old bike couldn't get grip and wheelspun on up the road (at 1,500rpm!). Mark reckoned it left about a 3 metre furrow in the gravel. At least I didn't roost him I 'spose...
We were both quite keen to hit the gas station at Waipawa where both bikes and riders needed a pit stop. The day was turning really warm so a few layers were removed before heading on up Highway 2. We made really good time through here and all the way to Taupo. The Taupo road was it's usual fun ride, I just hope the guy in the Blue mitsi van didn't get my photo!
We hit Taupo at about half past lunch time so we gassed the bikes and then stopped at the subway for a bite. The 1098 was there and just leaving as we stopped - a quick chat and he was off. While having lunch a few other guys went through and we never saw them again. As we were leaving the Harley guy turned up - seems all the riders were giving the subway some business.
The plan now was to head out of Taupo and over Poihipi road which then links up with the Western Access and then up over 41 to Tamarunui before heading south to National Park and our next stop for gas at Raetahi. We had a great ride (as usual) around the back of the lake and over 41 before hitting the slightly boring road to National Park. At Raetihi we abandoned our plans to gas up as both bikes had been sipping (read cruising at nearly legal speeds) and waved to the 1098 rider who was taking a bit of a breather before heading for the Paraparas.
The Paraparas weren't in too bad nick and with mostly dry roads (the odd damp patch but only spits on the visor) we had an enjoyable ride into Wanganui. As we now did need gas we abandoned Koro's route (will have to try it one day though as it cut's out Wanganui quite nicely) and headed for the nearest gas station. As we were getting ready to leave a few more guys turned up along with the guy on the ST. He was a bit unsure of the turn-off to take him to Fordell so we gave him some quick directions before leaving.
As it turned out we weren't too far past Fordell before he caught us up and followed us all the way through to Hunterville. Now it was time for some real fun as we headed for Vinegar Hill. A quick squirt over the hill and a gentle cruise into Ashhurst where we decided to stop and watch for some of the other guys - as we'd ridden down from Palmy in the morning Koro had let us off riding back down to Wellington and we decided not to argue...
We sat around - actually stood around, we'd had enough sitting down for a while - and eventually the ST turned up (see piccy above) and we waved him off. Cowboyz had spotted us parked up and came for a quick chat while we waited. We saw another couple of bikes go through but didn't recognise them and in the end we headed off home.
All in all a great day's ride with 1,051km covered over some great rides in good weather. There's talk that this could become a regular event so it probably won't be the last one I do - these big rides get quite addictive...